GENESIS 42 – 45
Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
The Family Reunited
The family of Israel has to wrestle with a myriad of feelings from resentment to regret, in order to eventually reach repentance and reconciliation.
o Think of a time when you were reunited with someone you had not seen in a long time. What were your feelings and reactions?
First Journey to Egypt (42:1-38)
o Whose idea is it to get food provisions from Egypt when the food ran out in Canaan? Who actually goes to get food?
o The word ‘recognize’ has been important in the story of Jacob and his family. Who ‘recognizes’ now? Who does not ‘recognize’? What else does Joseph recognize in the situation?
o What could be Joseph’s reasons for playing a game with his brothers and for being harsh toward them?
o What affect does Joseph’s tactics have on the brothers? How did that in turn affect Joseph?
o What is Jacob’s response when 9 of the 10 brothers return with food, as well as with their silver?
o What is Rueben’s offer to Jacob? How does Jacob respond?
Second Journey to Egypt (43:1-34)
o How is the decision that the brothers should return to Egypt a second time negotiated? Which brother takes the lead this time?
o What do the brothers take with them on the second trip to Egypt?
o What is Jacob’s blessing as they leave? Why do you think he pronounces this blessing using God’s name, El Shaddai, God Almighty. What does Jacob mean by “As for me, if I must be bereaved, I will be bereaved” (vs.14)?
o Joseph provides a warm reception for the brothers, but still does not reveal his identity. What clues does he give that something is up? How do the brothers react?
o If you were Joseph, how would you be treating your brothers? What would be the thoughts and feelings motivating you?
Tough Love (44:1-34)
o Why does Joseph continue the deception with his brothers by setting them up to look like they had stolen from him yet again?
If we could ask God’s opinion about what is going on, perhaps God would reckon that the brothers do need to be brought to a deep and genuine repentance, that they way Joseph is treating them does have the capacity to bring this about, and that even if Joseph’s resentment is driving him more than it should – well, God works through human weakness and sin as well as though human strength and righteousness (as Joseph himself will eventually point out).
o What do Judah and the other brothers finally recognize and acknowledge in verse 16? How is this change of heart reflected in Judah’s speech and offer to Joseph?
If we assume Joseph is not simply trying to exact revenge from his brothers, we can see him as handling this dilemma: trying to combine a willingness to forgive with a rigor in seeking to get his brothers to face the facts about what they have done. They have to be driven deeper into shame and into owning the implications of what they did years ago if they are to find true maturity and find reconciliation with their brother. John Goldingay
o What finally brings Joseph to reveal his identity to his brothers? How does he do it?
o What do you think ran through the minds of Joseph’s brothers when he revealed his identity to them? How do they react?
o Why was Joseph not angry with his brothers for their earlier betrayal? How is Joseph’s forgiveness evident?
o Think of a time you have experienced of God working His will through difficult circumstances. In what ways can you stay positive during those times as you wait for God’s purposes to be revealed? What other lessons did you learn in those times?
In this story the lead brothers are Judah on one side and Joseph on the other. After Israel (that is, Jacob’s descendants) divided into two nations dominated by Judah and by the Joseph clans, relations between them were sometimes cordial but were often strained or adversarial. It was odd that the two parts of the family of Jacob were thus divided. The story of this relationship between their forebears points them toward a realism that does not hide from issues that need to be faced, but also to an openness to and desire for family reconciliation. The people of God can never be satisfied with enmity within the family. John Goldingay
In light of this passage and our discussion, what one truth about God and about yourself stand out as something to “take to heart” this week?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Robert Alter, Genesis, 1996
John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, 2010
Max Lucado, Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Book of Genesis, 1997